An Atwater man was arrested Wednesday in connection with a string of daytime burglaries, police said.
In addition, police believe he could be linked to a brazen home invasion this week, where an 81-year-old woman was targeted.
Zeckaria Nedwicke, 20, was arrested in the 1500 block of Grove Avenue on Wednesday afternoon after running from officers. Nedwicke, called a "career criminal" by police, was combative and had to be subdued by an officer with a stun gun, officials said.
The arrest unfolded when Atwater police went to a home in the 1200 block of Fifth Street after a residential alarm went off. Officer Matthew Haywood discovered the home's rear door open and a ransacked bedroom inside.
Meanwhile, officer Dennis Frank was looking for the possible burglary suspect when a resident reported a suspicious man walking nearby with a black backpack. The resident said the man had run from a back yard, activating the home's alarm. Frank ordered the man, identified as Nedwicke, to stop, but he ran, dropping the backpack.
Police said that they determined the items inside the backpack were stolen from the Fifth Street home. Police also found a brown ski mask and other items linking Nedwicke to several burglaries, including the Seventh Street home of a couple in their 70s. Police believe Nedwicke broke in through a bathroom window while the couple was gone for a morning walk.
Atwater police said they are also investigating Nedwicke for a possible role in the home-invasion robbery of an 81-year-old woman Tuesday morning.
Victim, 81, fights back
In that case, police believe the robber entered the victim's home in the 1300 block of Park Street around midnight through a sliding glass rear door. Officers said the victim was at her computer and got up to investigate the sound, but found nothing suspicious.
When she returned to the computer, she said, she heard a man's voice asking, "Where's the money?" and turned to see who it was, police said. The robber then demanded that she turn away and face the computer.The woman attempted to press her medical alert necklace before the robber yanked the device from around her neck, Joseph said. The victim grabbed a dining room chair and threw it at the intruder. He took the woman's bag, which contained credit cards, a checkbook and $110 in cash, before fleeing on foot.
Lt. Sam Joseph credited the hard work of the department's detectives and officers for the arrest, including Adolfo Lomeli, Anthony Cardoza, David Brum and Bill Richards.
He added that the 81-year-old victim's perseverance probably saved her life. "Never give up," he said. "Keep fighting to defend yourself."
Nedwicke was booked at the Merced County Jail on two charges of resisting arrest, burglary, possession of stolen property and battery on a spouse. He's being held in lieu of $92,000 bail.
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.